SJF Gallery

by Carl Strang

As recent posts have shown, I am transitioning into the singing insects field season. I will be spending less time at St. James Farm over the next four months, though I won’t be ignoring that preserve completely. So here is a collection of recent photos from St. James Farm Forest Preserve.

I was pleased to find that green dragons are scattered throughout the forest.

I was pleased to find that green dragons are scattered throughout the forest.

Both the smooth sweet cicely, shown here, and the hairy sweet cicely are among the late spring forest wildflowers at SJF.

Both the smooth sweet cicely, shown here, and the hairy sweet cicely are among the late spring forest wildflowers at SJF.

Wild hyacinths are savanna or woods border plants with only a brief blooming period.

Wild hyacinths are savanna or woods border plants with only a brief blooming period.

The somewhat weedy, open-growing common goat’s beard is a personal favorite.

The somewhat weedy, open-growing common goat’s beard is a personal favorite.

Earlier in the season I saw a female dot-tailed whiteface in one of the prairie plots. Here is a male on station at the catch-and-release fishing pond.

Earlier in the season I saw a female dot-tailed whiteface in one of the prairie plots. Here is a male on station at the catch-and-release fishing pond.

The grayish fan-foot, aka grayish Zanclognatha, has been abundant in the forest in recent days. The caterpillars live on fallen dead leaves.

The grayish fan-foot, aka grayish Zanclognatha, has been abundant in the forest in recent days. The caterpillars live on fallen dead leaves.

This eastern bluebird nestling looks ready to get out into the world.

This eastern bluebird nestling looks ready to get out into the world.

 

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Wild Hyacinth in Transition

by Carl Strang

Over the years I have been documenting how plants change after their flowering period is over. This series has included a lot of winter botany, and also plants that senesce and leave no traces by the end of the growing season. One I have been wanting to follow, but for one reason or another have missed, is the wild hyacinth.

Here is one of the beautiful savanna denizens just starting to bloom.

Here is one of the beautiful savanna denizens just starting to bloom.

Very quickly it peaks, and is done.

Very quickly it peaks, and is done.

Recently I caught one with a few last flowers up top, while the first ones rapidly are swelling into fruit.

Recently I caught one with a few last flowers up top, while the first ones rapidly are swelling into fruit.

A close-up of the fruit

A close-up of the fruit

If further changes seem worthy of noting here, I will do so.

May Phenology: Flowers and Insects

by Carl Strang

Probably the best phenological comparisons between years involve plants. That is because plants respond to soil conditions, which average the weather for the year to date. Also, there are many species of plants, increasing the number of comparisons that can be made and reducing the chance for error. I focus mainly on first flower dates. This year I was able to compare 41 species to 2010, and 44 species to 2009. The continued cool spring has made this the latest of the 3 years for first flower dates in May. The median values for 2011 were a whopping 14 days later than in 2010, and 4 days later than 2009, which also was a remarkably late year.

The wild hyacinth did not closely match the overall pattern, blooming 7 days later than in 2010 and 6 days earlier than in 2009.

The final set of phenology data I record are first observations of insect species. Here the results are shakier, in part because the number of species is small for May, at around 10, and in part because of the possibility of missing representatives of the year’s first generation of a species.

I saw the first tiger swallowtail at Mayslake Forest Preserve 16 days earlier than in 2010, 8 days earlier than in 2009.

The median dates for 2011 were 7 days earlier than in 2010, and 12 days earlier than in 2009. However, if I leave out species with more than one generation in which I obviously missed the first in the earlier years, medians shift to 9 days later than in 2010, 5 days later than in 2009.

The four-spotted skimmer shows how wildly erratic the insect data can be. My first observation for 2011 was 9 days later than in 2010, but 61 days earlier than in 2009.

Adjusting the data in that way is sensible, and produces a result consistent with what we see in the plants.

Flowers in Shade and Sun

by Carl Strang

The parade of native wildflowers continues in my phenological study at Mayslake Forest Preserve. In the savanna, showy species have included wild columbine,

Columbine 1b

wild hyacinth,

Wild hyacinth 2b

woodland phlox,

Woodland phlox 2b

common cinquefoil,

Common cinquefoil b

Solomon’s plume (also known as false Solomon’s seal)

Solomon's plume 3b

and foxglove beard tongue.

Foxglove beard tongue 1b

Above, black cherry.

Black cherry b

Also, black locust with its fragrant flowers.

Black locust flowers b

Below, may apple.

Mayapple 1b

Meanwhile, in the open, the first marsh fleabane flowers have appeared.

Marsh fleabane b

In parts of the prairie, there have been abundant blue-eyed grass flowers.

Sisyrhynchium b

Scattered spiderworts have begun to bloom.

Spiderwort 1b

Near the parking lot marsh, the meadow contains this pasture rose

Pasture rose b

and this yellow avens.

Yellow avens 1b

Yarrow is widespread on the preserve.

Yarrow b

Common blackberry, a plant of sun to partial shade, has reached its flowering season.

Common blackberry b

A rich diversity of foliage promises much more in coming weeks.

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